Applicants Line Up For New Health Care Board

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(Host) More than 100 people have applied to be members of the state’s new Health Care Board. That’s the group that will oversee virtually every aspect of health care in Vermont in the coming years.

And Governor Shumlin’s chief health care advisor says she’s applied to be the head of the panel.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel has more:

(Kinzel) The 5 person Board will oversee hospital budgets and insurance rates, it will try to implement various cost containment plans and it will design future benefit packages.

Although the Governor’s goal is to put a single payer system in place as early as 2014, he says there’s no policy litmus test for prospective Board members:

(Shumlin) "I think the ideal is to have a Board that represents a number of different backgrounds. Obviously experience in health care is incredibly important but all people who have been in the business community people who have had to pay for health care, consumers. I mean we want to try to have as much representation as we possibly can of the various facets of Vermont‘s economy that are going to be relying on a health care system that we can afford."

(Kinzel) And Shumlin is expecting the Board to make major changes in the delivery of health care in Vermont in the coming years:

(Shumlin) "Where we use our health care dollars to make people healthy. Get the insurance companies off our providers’ backs and be able to really move to an outcomes based medicine system where we’re spending our money on keeping people healthy and that’s a tough job."

(Kinzel) Kate Duffy is the state’s Human Resources Commissioner.  She says a special nominating panel will now review all the applications and schedule interviews.  She says the process is modeled after the work of the state’s Judicial Nominating Board when there’s a vacancy on the Vermont Supreme Court.

The Board doesn’t make specific recommendations, but rather, determines which applicants are "qualified" for the post:

(Duffy) "So it is really exactly that process where the group will say these people are qualified and then the Governor will from that point decide on who should be appointed to the Board."

(Kinzel) Duffy says the names of the applicants and the interview schedule are strictly confidential. But the Governor’s chief health care advisor, consultant Anya Rader Wallack, says she’s applied to be chair of the panel:

(Radar Wallack) "As important as taking the first step during the Legislative session was, the next few years are going to be vitally important to the success of our effort over the long term and I want to be part of that."

(Kinzel) Commissioner Duffy says the goal is to send a list of names to the Governor for his consideration by the middle of September.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.


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